The Art of Chinese Dimsum

Chinese dimsum is essentially a meal that includes tea. Most Chinese people refer to dimsum as “yum cha.” It translates to drink tea in English. Dimsum is one of my father’s favorite activities. I have not found a decent looking dimsum place in San Diego so I stay away from all of them. My parents have a ton of them by their house. I usually try to go whenever I’m back in the area. These pictures were taken at NBC Seafood Restaurant located in Monterey Park, CA. It’s also in the same parking lot as one of my favorite bakeries, Jim’s Bakery. Jim’s Bakery makes the best egg tarts and Portugese tarts (affectionately known as Po tarts) in all of the 626 area code. The egg tarts are authentic. I find they taste better than any kind you could find in Chinatown.

I’m no expert regarding the tea because I never really drink the tea. I go for the food. My father always orders “Bo Lay.” To this day, I still have no idea what kind of tea that is! My focus is on the food.
This picture includes eggrolls that are cut in half. They usually ask you if you want them cut. There are bbq pork buns. They’re the ones that are brown on top and shiny. They’re filled with bbq pork. They’re called “cha siu bao,” in Chinese. The buns behind that are pineapple custard buns. They have a pineapple looking topping around the bun and the inside is filled with a custard. This isn’t the same thing as American custard, which is smooth and sweet. Depending on the restaurant, they use different custards. The kind that NBC serves is a orange/yellow colored custard that’s as thick as paste. I’m not a fan of it. These are called “boh loh bao.” Behind the pineapple buns is rice noodles filled with beef and rice noodles filled with shrimp. I love the shrimp kind! The beef kind is a hit or miss. I think that also have rice noodles filled with bbq pork. I’ve never tried it though! The rice noodle with beef is called “ygao curhang,” and the shrimp one is called “ha curhang.”
In this picture there are more plates than the last. This picture includes marinated tripe with pig’s blood in the front, cooked chicken feet to the left, steamed sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves, pork dumplings, and shrimp dumplings in the back. The tripe is usually cooked with daikon roots and chunks of pig’s blood. It sounds disgusting but it’s actually quite tasty! It’s been a long time since I’ve tried it. There are two kinds of chicken feet. The cooked kind that is pictured above or the cold kind. The cold kind is white and is eaten cold. I’m not sure how they make it. I think it’s marinated in something but I can never figure out what. Steamed sticky rice is my father’s favorite. My mother makes it quite often at home. It’s sticky rice mixed with Chinese sausage, mushrooms, and ground pork. Sometimes they add other stuff depending on the restaurant. Pork dumplings are called “siu mai.” It’s a yellowish wrapper filled with pork, mushroom, and shrimp usually. The shrimp dumpling is shrimp paste/chunks of shrimp wrapped in a white wrapper. This is my favorite. It’s called “hah gow.”
This is tofu pudding! It’s one of my favorite desserts. I’ve tried to get it at other places but dimsum restaurants have the best tofu pudding. It’s as smooth as a baby’s bottom. It’s served with a side cup of sugar syrup.
And finally my favorite dimsum food! Egg tarts and Po tarts from Jim’s Bakery. I usually stock up when I have a chance to come here. They’re the best egg tarts I’ve ever had. Sweet, flaky, and eggy. Just the way any good egg tart should be. xoxo, J.


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